Speights of greatness

That year and a half Marreese Speights spent in Memphis evidently taught him something: coming off the Cleveland bench tonight, Speights was downright Grizzly in his approach, and while Kyrie Irving rested, Speights brought the Cavs back out of a deep hole and into contention again. Then Irving returned, scoring 13 points in the last three minutes, which gave him 35, and which gave Cleveland an unexpected, but definitely deserved, win over the Thunder, 115-110.

The Cavs put up a startling 39 points in that final frame, with Speights contributing 13 himself. (He finished with 21.) Cleveland trailed in a couple of specs — they were outrebounded 47-44, and Oklahoma City inflicted ten steals and 11 blocks on them — but 48-percent shooting (versus 49) was good enough, especially since they hit half of their 18 attempts from three-point land. (OKC tried more, hit fewer.) Worth mentioning: C. J. Miles, with 16 off the bench; Tristan Thompson, with one of two Cav double-doubles (Speights had the other); and ex-Thunderman Shaun Livingston, who scored only two points but dished up six assists in 17 minutes. You have to wonder what will happen when Daniel Gibson, nursing a toe sprain, comes back. (Anderson Varejão, who suffered a blood clot in one lung in December, is out for the season.)

The Thunder, for their part, got the usual numbers, including 32 from Kevin Durant despite a rib contusion in the third (he was back in the fourth) and 28 from Russell Westbrook. KD also had 11 rebounds; Serge Ibaka snagged 12 to go with 18 points. Kevin Martin led the bench with 15. But there was no stopping Speights and Irving, no matter what sort of defense the Thunder threw at them, and you have to figure that no night in which DeAndre Liggins (!) gets a technical can possibly end well.

Next: a week at home, against Dallas (Monday), Golden State (Wednesday), Phoenix (Friday). Anything less than 3-0 is dangerous at this point: both the Spurs (#1 seed) and the Nuggets (second in the Northwest) are surging.







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